Clinical Breast Examination

What is a Clinical Breast Examination?

A clinical breast examination is a physical breast examination  performed by a health care professional, usually along with mammogram screening. The main purpose of a clinical breast examination is to differentiate normal breast tissue from possible cancerous breast tissue.

Who is a Clinical Breast Examination suitable for?

Clinical breast examination is used as a breast cancer screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.

Breast cancer experts recommend breast screening every year for women, beginning at age 40. Research has shown that annual breast examinations lead to early detection of breast cancers, when they are more curable.

The National Cancer Institute adds that women who have had breast cancer, and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer, should seek advice from their breast screening clinic as to whether they should begin breast screening before age 40.

How does the Clinical Breast Examination work?

Clinical breast screening is performed by a trained health care professional, and you will be given an explanation of what is to be done, and why, before the exam begins.  Your breasts will be inspected while you are seated, and then with hands raised above your heads.  Your health care professional will look for any lumps, variations in breast size and shape, unusual nipples, any oedema, and redness and dimpling of the skin.

The next stage of clinical breast screening is palpitation of the breasts, and this process normally takes about three minutes on each side.  The nodes in your armpit will also be examined.  It is recommended that a clinical breast examination is followed by a mammogram.

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